Famine has spread to a sixth region of Somalia, the United Nations has reported, with roughly 12 million people now malnourished and in need of aid. The UN says 750,000 could die in the drought-weakened famine zone, the BBC reports.

 

The situation in the Bay region was worse than anything previously recorded, said senior UN's technical adviser Grainne Moloney.

"The rate of malnutrition [among children] in Bay region is 58%. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition," she told journalists in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

This is almost double the rate at which a famine is declared.

"In total, 4 million people are in crisis in Somalia, with 750,000 people at risk of death in the coming four months in the absence of adequate response," the UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) says.

Half of those who have already died are children, it says.

Neighbouring Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have also been affected by the severe lack of rain.

Efforts to ameliorate the hunger are being held back by the country's ongoing civil war. "Al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabab fighters pulled out of positions in Mogadishu last month but they still control much of southern Somalia, the worst-hit region by famine and the extreme drought," Al Jazeera reported.